Vernalization requirement of wild beet Beta vulgaris ssp. maritima: among population variation and its adaptive significance
H. Van Dijk (fax + 33320436979; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org).
- 1Seven populations of Beta vulgaris ssp. maritima (wild beet) situated along a latitudinal cline were studied for their vernalization requirement and its consequences for fitness.
- 2Various cold regimes were applied in glasshouses and experimental gardens with plants of different ages. Three additional experimental sites (on the French Mediterranean, Atlantic and North Sea coasts) situated near three of the sampled populations, and thus including a reciprocal transplant design, were used to evaluate the influence of latitude under natural conditions. Survival and plant size were measured over 3 years.
- 3The vernalization requirement was greater in plants from more northern origins. The level of cold required to allow flowering overcompensated for the colder springs, so that northern plants in northern sites flowered less than southern plants in southern sites.
- 4Young seedlings were more difficult to vernalize than plants that had already developed vegetative rosettes.
- 5Differences in vernalization requirement seem to be an adaptive response to spring temperatures and season length in a particular latitude. A whole winter vernalization almost always led to flowering in the subsequent year whatever the latitude or geographical origin.
- 6Plants from the Atlantic and Channel coasts showed the highest lifetime reproductive success at all sites. Southern populations were better adapted to disturbed habitats as shown by their higher first-year reproductive success. The North Sea population had a lower reproductive success than the Atlantic populations, even in its native environment.